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January 02, 2008

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9. Keep that key. When you check out of a hotel where you were issued a card-key to unlock the door to your room, don’t leave the card-key behind. Hold on to it until you’re safely home and can shred or otherwise discard it safely. Some say it’s an urban myth that the card-keys hold vital details like credit card numbers, while others report having tested and confirmed the presence of private data coded into the magnetic strip. Even if there’s no definitive answer, why risk it?

Definitely an urban myth.
http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/hotelkey.asp

All good advice. Thanks.

I had my identity stolen a year and a half ago. They lifted three pieces of outgoing mail from a Canada Post mailbox on the street. I imagine they came at night, dumped it out, took what was promising and put the rest back.

They used the materials to create new accounts; my existing accounts were not compromised. However, it was still a very costly and time consuming experience.

I shredded all my junk mail, but never considered that mailboxes were not safe. Perhaps obvious to most in retrospect, but I hope this comment saves at least one person this experience.

If you can't or don't want to remove your hard drive when getting rid of a laptop, what is the best way to permanently erase all the information on it??

I use Quicken on my computer which has tons of my personal information. I also keep files of all my tax records and other such things on it. But If I get rid of my laptop I will probably sell it or give it to someone, not destroy the hard drive.

If I re-format the drive will that be enough? Or is there some software that will wipe the drive permanently?

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